Saturday, 9 September 2017

"Mary is the first light who announces night’s end...."

I have not followed Pope Francis' visit to Colombia closely, but was particularly struck by the text of his homily at Villavicencio. This report at the Vatican Radio website includes a lovely image, as well as the full text of the homily. Once again, reading Pope Francis, I am put in mind of the beauty of language that is also typical of Pope Benedict XVI.

The writings of Ingrid Betancourt have given me some idea of the history of the conflict in Colombia that now promises to have come to an end. The force of Pope Francis' words in favour of reconciliation are, in that context, immense. Force is added to them by the city in which they were spoken, a city which saw one of the most tragic events of the Colombian conflict.
Mary is the first light who announces night’s end, and above all, the impending day.  Her birth helps us to understand the loving, tender, compassionate plan of love in which God reaches down and calls us to a wonderful covenant with him, that nothing and no one will be able to break...
Reconciliation is not an abstract word; if it were, then it would only bring sterility and greater distance.  Reconciliation means opening a door to every person who has experienced the tragic reality of conflict.  When victims overcome the understandable temptation to vengeance, they become the most credible protagonists for the process of building peace.  What is needed is for some to courageously take the first step in that direction, without waiting for others to do so.  We need only one good person to have hope!  And each of us can be that person!  This does not mean ignoring or hiding differences and conflicts.  This is not to legitimize personal and structural injustices.  Recourse to reconciliation cannot merely serve to accommodate unjust situations.  Instead, as Saint John Paul II taught: “[Reconciliation] is rather a meeting between brothers who are disposed to overcome the temptation to egoism and to renounce the attempts of pseudo-justice.  It is the fruit of sentiments that are strong, noble and generous that lead to establishing a coexistence based on respect for each individual and on the values that are proper to each civil society” (Letter to the Bishops of El Salvador, 6 August 1982).  Reconciliation, therefore, becomes substantive and is consolidated by the contribution of all; it enables us to build the future, and makes hope grow.  Every effort at peace without a sincere commitment to reconciliation is destined to fail. 

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